Thursday, December 30, 2010

Excuses, excuses.

It's photo time! Late again. Instead of 28 weeks, it's 28 weeks and 5 days. But I have a really good excuse. 28 weeks tolled on Saturday, which was Christmas. Normally Christmas means an early rise, a fun-filled morning, followed by a leisurely afternoon perfect for belly shot taking. Not this year.

This year we arose relatively early to find Jared, my brother-in-law, sitting on the couch with a pained look on his face. He's been up for hours with a horrific stomach ache and needed to go to the ER. Though he was willing to delay his trip so we could get in some quality gift exchange time. Tempting as the offer was, the family decided to delay Christmas. We are pretty good at prioritizing.

Brad and Eva, my mother-in-law, took Jared to the hospital. A couple hours later we found out that Jared had appendicitis and would be undergoing emergency surgery. Those of us remaining at home said mean things about Santa while we threw on clothes and made our way to the hospital.

Despite the fact that the lobby was practically empty (the information stations were manned by rotary phones), my brother made me wear a face mask. He was worried about Tater contracting hospital cooties. I looked like a hyper-paranoid pregnant lady, but I have been fighting a nasty head cold and thought it wasn't the worst idea. I was just thrilled that I wasn't in the hospital for tater-related complications. Something I worry about constantly these days.

Jared made it through surgery in record time and was home by 4pm. Delayed Christmas was fabulous, but I ended the day without having taken a shower. This made day three sans shower, and I wasn't feeling up to posing for a belly shot with my fantastically filthy hair. I've managed to shower once or twice since then, but I kept forgetting to take the belly shots. Oopsie!

Without further adieu, here are the shots:

I think the belly looks smaller in these pictures than it did four weeks ago. Weird. It certainly doesn't feel smaller. Maybe it's the shirt, which I will now be wearing twice as often, just in case. (Thanks, Meghan!) Or the scarf, which was a Christmas gift from Stef, my sister-in-law. I love this scarf. I also love the onesie that Brad's parents gave us. It says "I'm a pretty big deal in Birmingham." So true. So true.

Other than the Christmas Day drama, it's been a pretty uneventful week. One interesting tidbit: I've been suffering from some serious baby brain. On Christmas Eve I was looking at a photo of three ballet dancers, including Brad's Aunt Georgia. Someone commented that she was the dancer on the right, and I asked if they meant the far right. The far right is not applicable to groups of three. I know this, but not when my brain takes breaks. It takes lots of breaks. Lucky for me, my brother Randy was around to point out -- and laugh at -- each of my mental stumbles.

In my defense, I think the baby brain is aggravated by the head cold I've had all week. And once again I decided to forgo medication. Now that Tater is a fully formed tiny person, I'm even more aware that whatever I put in my body goes right into his. And I don't want to pump him full of Sudafed if it isn't necessary. I do not have the same rule for banana pudding, which I've consumed in mass quantity this week. Eva makes amazing banana pudding. Tater loves it.

Tater does not love having his head squished, however. Earlier this week I was lying on my side, next to Maggie, reading a book. All of the sudden, Tater started moving around. His movements were so pronounced that it looked like he was trying to break out of my stomach. I grabbed my phone to videotape it, but the movement stopped. I stared a my stomach for a while, but eventually I gave up and rolled over to return to my book. Suddenly, Tater resumed his calisthenics. It took me a minute, but eventually I realized that when I rolled over, I compressed the right-hand side of my stomach against Maggie. Tater was moving in response, presumably protesting the loss of real estate. Fascinating! I offered to show Brad, but he was not a fan of mushing Tater's head in order to trigger kicking. Party pooper.

Regardless, I was pretty proud of myself for figuring this out. So sad. Patting myself on the back for noticing the obvious. I miss my brain. Just like Jared misses his appendix.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mr. Rogers would be so disappointed

Grumble. I am typing this post on my phone, because I have started my holiday vacation and I am shunning computers. Or at least keyboards. I have an app on my phone for composing and posting blog updates. Turns out the app is not great at running in the background. I had a decent chunk of this post written when I received a text message, changed apps to reply, and learned the hard way that moving away from the blog app deletes whatever draft one is working on. So, grumble. But on with the post!

First thought of the day: pregnancy has made me selfish. Especially when it comes to food, pillows, space on the couch, selecting restaurants, etc. This morning I went into Starbucks to grab drinks. I added a scone to the order, but just one, to share with Brad, because two hours earlier we'd eaten a decent breakfast. And because I've seen the nutritional information for Starbucks pastries. It is not friendly. Except for the eight-grain roll, which is delicious, even with the baked raisins, and relatively healthy, but inexplicably available only on the west coast. You're killing me, Starbucks.

But I digress. Want to guess how much of that scone I consumed? No, not the entire thing. I'm bad at sharing, but I haven't given up on the concept entirely. I ate close to 4/5 of the scone. And to make matters worse, when I admitted this to Brad, I told him that I did it because Tater really likes scones. Blaming my unborn child, whose opinion on scones is TBD, to justify food hoarding. Eep.

In my defense, it was a cranberry orange scone and scrumptious. Also, Brad let me hold the bag. Big mistake. Huge.

But I do not love all things orange-flavored. See, for example, glucose test beverages. Gag. For the uninitiated among you (and count yourself lucky), somewhere between 24 and 28 weeks doctors test to make sure pregnant women haven't developed diabetes. This test involves drinking said beverage and then subjecting yourself to a blood draw exactly one hour later.

According to the label, this drink is best served cold. I put it in the fridge overnight, but then I had to take it to work because my appointment was at 3:15. When I got to work, I considered putting the drink into the communal fridge. But I didn't, because I irrationally feared that, for what would surely be the first time in the history of glucose testing, someone would walk off with my orange-flavored test drink. Who would be such a glutton for punishment?

Regardless, I forced down the drink when it was lukewarm. Thus not at the peak of its palatability. It tasted like a cross between orange-flavored cough medicine and watered-down Karo syrup. The aftertaste was particularly bad, but after finishing the drink, water is off-limits until the blood draw.

The appointment went well. We got to see Doc G. Have I ever mentioned that he looks like a Ken doll? My blood pressure was good. So was my weight gain (always a relief). Tater's heart beat sounded wonderful. Stomach measurement must have been fine, because he didn't say anything about it.

He asked where I'd been feeling Tater's kicks, and I told him on the side and more recently closer to my breast bone. Apparently this is good. Might indicate that Tater is upside-down (that is, not breach).

He also asked whether we'd signed up for classes. Told him we're signed up in January for all of the classes he recommended -- breastfeeding, infant CPR, and the day-long orientation at the hospital. Also told him that we'd be taking a semi-private birthing class with a local woman who was highly recommended so I can learn more about the labor process and pain management techniques. Doc G thought this was a good idea and asked who was teaching the class. Me: "Um, I think her name is Holly." Brad: "HIGHLY recommended. We've clearly done our research." Me: "We're taking the class with my good friend Katie. She's done the research. She's trustworthy." So sad that I know more about strollers and gliders than I do about delivering a baby. Thank goodness for Katie.

I told Doc G about the light-headedness, shortness of breath, racing heart problem. (Yup. That's still going on.) I called the problem "extreme," which apparently is the code word to get doctors to pay attention. Doc G ordered some extra bloodwork to rule out some possible causes (other than large growing fetus jockeying for room in the space shared by my lungs, diaphragm, etc.). I know he ordered a test for thyroid problems, possibly iron deficiency? I am, perhaps, a little too deferential and laid-back about this pregnancy process.

Oh! And we're supposed to start shopping for a pediatrician. I'll let you know how that goes.

So they took four vials of blood from me for all the testing. Then I had to get a shot because I'm RH-negative. My blood type is A-. Brad's is B+. He thinks our respective blood types are amusingly accurate. Har har. Turns out this shot is administered in the toushy. Which makes it the first toushy shot I've received in, oh, 20-something years.

Doc G called with the blood test results this morning, and everything looked good! This is awesome, because it means I don't have to redo the glucose test. Phew. That means more glucose drinks for the rest of the world. That counts as sharing, right? You're welcome, rest of the world.

Monday, December 20, 2010

three months and cleavage

Hi all! Yesterday was December 19, which means we are now less than three months from the due date. I think we've hit the third trimester as well (2/3 of the months and 27/40 of the weeks are finished). But, despite logic and solid math, the experts can't seem to agree on exactly when the third trimester starts. What to Expect and Sprout (one of my iPhone apps, yes, one of four) say the third trimester is a go. Baby Center, however, says that the third trimester begins at week 28. I suppose it doesn't matter, and I like hitting goals, so I'm telling people I'm in the third trimester. But perhaps I should give myself the extra week, because hitting the third trimester freaks. me. out.

There are no more trimesters. This is it. And I am wholly unprepared for Tater's impending arrival. Yes, I have furniture in the nursery. But there are no cushioned surfaces in the room. Nothing soft on top of the furniture (like a mattress or a changing pad), and thus less than ideal for a baby. I don't even own a diaper. We haven't taken our classes at Prentice (they are all scheduled in January).

Last week Meghan asked me if I'd decided on a birthing plan. I told her that I'd decided on getting an epidural, and asked if that qualified as a plan. Meghan did not seem convinced. Perhaps an epidural is just part of a plan. But I don't know what the other components are. I just assumed that birth plans are for those who are going a non-traditional route. And I've already ruled out things like home birth, water birth, squatting birth, birth without an OB/GYN. No judgment here, just a big fan of modern medicine and adjustable hospital beds and not a big fan of pain. But I should look into this. Perhaps that will be my light reading over the holiday break.

I'm confident that by the end of January I'll be in much better shape. Schooled on infants, birth plan aware, stocked upon supplies and necessities. So what's the big deal? The end of January is WAY sooner than March 19.

The big deal is that I have a new worry. Hitting week 27 also meant reaching the good viability milestone -- Tater stands a decent chance of survival if he decides to show up ahead of time. Which means I'm less worried about losing Tater. Happy! But I'm increasingly worried about an early delivery (which could happen) or accidentally squeezing Tater out (which could not happen). I'm not kidding. I have this totally irrational fear every time I sneeze, cough, pee, laugh jovially, etc., that I am going to trigger Tater's exit. It's even worse when one of those things happens while I'm standing up (n/a to peeing, of course). My brain is being ridiculous.

Know what is also ridiculous? My boobs. I realized today that I have cleavage. Many years ago, I had something bordering on cleavage. But then I lost weight, in some places more than other. I still remember bringing home a bag full of pretty new bras in the size I'd worn since high school and showing them my then-roommate and fabulous friend Hallie. Hallie, with her syrupy South Carolina accent, gently said, "Darlin', I hate to tell you this, but you are no longer a B-cup." That was in 2001. For nine years, my boobs remained at bay. Not once did I fret about showing too much skin in the chest area, because there wasn't much to look at. But today I was wearing a v-neck maternity top and when I glanced at myself in the mirror at work, I found the shirt borderline indecent. Woohoo! I've been forewarned by a friend who recently gave birth that my boobs will morph into weeping alien rock formations when Tater arrives. So I'll enjoy this change while I can. And I'll start doing a decency check before walking out the door during the work week.

Oh boy. Boyz II Men is singing with Committed on The Sing Off finale. Brad wants Tater to pay close attention, as Tater is expected to love two things immediately and unconditionally: owls and Boys II Men. Gotta run.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Blerg. Today was not a good day at work. Remember the oral argument I had a few weeks back? The court issued its decision this morning and I lost. This one stings because I really, truly, cared about the issues I raised. This is not the first time I've lost a case, but in the past I've always been able to nurse the wound with a big beautiful glass of red zinfandel. I don't miss drinking all that much, but today I really really miss red wine and its therapeutic properties. The idea of a club soda + fruit juice stand-in is all the more depressing.

So, let's forget about today and talk about the Tatermoon. Charleston was fabulous. It was a little cold and a little wet and we were a little underdressed. But that's my only complaint. We ate a tremendous amount of delicious southern food. (Oh, the cornbread. Thank God for the cornbread. And the sweet tea; if only it was decaffeinated.) The mother-to-be spa treatments were dreamy. Though I enjoyed laying on my stomach less than I expected. They had a large pillow that is supposed to cradle the bump. But it felt like laying in a foam mold which was made by casting some other pregnant lady's body. I've heard rumors of massage tables with elastic middle panels. I think that would be more my style. My absolute favorite part was the facial. My skin has felt somewhat gross during pregnancy, and it needed a good cleaning out. I think the facial brought out that pregnancy glow that everyone talks about but I'd yet to see. I glow! I glow!

I managed to do a lot of walking with only a few episodes of shortness of breath. And I learned that I am awesome at dancing while pregnant. I don't have the stamina to dance quickly, so I coordinate my moves with every fourth beat or so. Brad says I'm slow dancing to upbeat music, but I'm pretty sure that's the rage. Or will be soon.

The biggest surprise of the weekend was learning that one of Brad's groomsmen, one of his oldest friends, was also in Charleston. Nick was interviewing for his residency, and we got to spend Saturday afternoon/evening and Sunday morning with him. Nick had spent a month in Charleston during med school, so he showed us around and took us to a couple restaurants that were off the beaten path. One served me a carrot curry soup that blew my mind. Love Nick.

If you are anything like friends with whom I've already shared this part of the story, you may be wondering how hanging out with Nick impacted the romance of the weekend. How can I put this delicately? Babymoon does not equal honeymoon on the romance scale. Especially when one is a few days shy of the six-month mark. There's definitely romance, but there's more room for good friends and good food and good sleep. We'll leave it at that.

Saturday night we took a tour of the haunted jail. I'm a big fan of ghost tours (see, e.g., my bachelorette party). The jail tour had the best reviews online, so we gave it a shot. While we were waiting for the tour to begin, I remembered that pregnant women are not supposed to go to haunted houses. Unfair, but possibly a rule with a reason. Thankfully, the haunted jail tour was not cause for concern. It was amusing, but far from scary. Also, it didn't hurt that we met the author of a book which was published earlier this year on the history of the jail. He was doing a book signing in our hotel on Friday night, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to bring home an autographed, ghost-themed souvenir. Before the tour I read the chapter rejecting most of the notorious and horrific stories associated with the jail. So the tour guide's scare tactics didn't work on yours truly. I kept whispering "that's not true" to Brad and Nick. They loved having me there.

Sunday night we went out for a fancy pants dinner at Slightly North of Broad. It was amazing. Off the top of her head, the waitress knew which of their cheeses were pasteurized. I got to eat some blue cheese with my salad! I missed blue cheese. It is awesome with caramelized pear, which was also in my salad. Mmmm. Also, I've been craving veggies lately, and they served me an overflowing vegetable plate for my main course (with a side of cheesy grits). I highly recommend S.N.O.B.

While I'm on the subject of the Sunday night dinner, I need to get something off my chest. Brad offered to keep this a secret, but I think it's better to just put it out there. While I was getting ready, I sneezed. And when I sneezed, I peed a little. I couldn't believe it. Brad laughed and laughed. I laughed too, and said a little prayer of thanks that I had yet to put on my tights. But now, every time I have to sneeze, I am afraid. Oh please, oh please, don't let my bladder control go as my belly expands.

But the peeing didn't stop me from getting cute. I wore the dress that my sister brought at Thanksgiving, and I wore it with heels! Here's the picture we sent to Caty as proof that I didn't wear the dress with Danskos:

Cute, right? So cute you already forgot that I peed myself? Rats.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

pj + stitch addendum

How did I fail to mention the biggest beneficiary of the pj arrival and the stitch departure? Brad. Brad wins big. How so, you ask?

Seeing as how I was living in my pumpkin-adorned, hole-ridden pjs, they rarely make it into the hamper. Yesterday I parted with the pants for a desperately needed trip to the washer/dryer. I wore a pair of yoga pants instead.

When it was time for bed, the dryer hadn't sounded. So I left the yoga pants on. The yoga pants are comfortable enough, but not ideal for sleeping. They are tight and a little itchy. After Brad came to bed, the buzzer went off.

Crucial point: the stitch made it hard to get in and out of bed.

So, buzzer sounds.

Me: I need my pumpkin pants.
Brad: (reaching down to confirm the veracity of the statement before speaking) You are wearing pants.
Me: They aren't good for sleeping. I need my pumpkin pants.
Brad: No you don't.
Me: Yes I do.
Brad: Shhhhh. Go to sleep. Go to sleep.
Me: I can't sleep without my pumpkin pants.
Brad: Sleep, sleep. Go to sleep.
Me: Okay. I'll get them myself. (Feign climbing out of bed by moving the covers)
Brad: You are wearing pants.
Me: Here I go. (Moving my left leg closer to the bed's edge.)
Brad: You are nuts. (Retrieves pumpkin pants.)
Me: Hooray! Welcome back pumpkin pants! (Change. Fall asleep.)

See? Brad wins! Brad wins!


It's a good day. I am home from work, which means I have officially begun my mini-vacation. Granted, it will be much more exciting when Brad gets home from work, and even more so when we leave for the airport tomorrow, but I'm going to cherish every moment of this Tatermoon. (Brad loathes the term Babymoon, so we are going on a Tatermoon. Because that is totally different.)

I am also excited for the moment when Brad gets home from work because he's bringing home a package from Gap which contains maternity PAJAMAS. Oh heavens, am I excited. I mistakenly thought that my regular pjs would get me through pregnancy. Turns out the elastic waistbands on most of my pj bottoms are not that forgiving. (Do you know what a blow to the ego that is? I mean, pj bottoms are like the ultimate fat pants. When I couldn't squeeze into my flannel bottoms the other night, I whimpered aloud. . . . But I still ate a huge bowl of Chocolate Cheerios for dessert, possibly two. They call to me.) It isn't just the bottoms. The pj tanks and shirts don't come close to covering the belly, and the pj industry doesn't make halter-top pajamas for a reason. So I'm down to one pair of bottoms that fit. They are adorned with pumpkins and they are beginning to develop holes. If I'm at home, I am wearing my holey pumpkin pajama bottoms. Typically with one of Brad's long-sleeved t-shirts. Sexy? Hell no. Comfortable? Yes. Warm? Not so much. The pants are are made of stretchy cotton and they are becoming threadbare. So it was time to take the plunge. I shelled out a grand total of $30 for two sets of maternity pjs from Old Navy during their after Thanksgiving sale. And tonight I will be able to wear brand new flannel bottoms adorned with adorable Christmas trees and a matching pregnancy long-underwear-ish top. Happy happy joy joy. Still not very sexy, but definitely a notch up on the cuteness scale.

All of this happiness aside, I am in the middle of a love/hate battle with Gap Inc. I love their cheap-ish maternity clothes enough to let little annoyances slide. Little annoyances such as their no-in-store returns policy for maternity wear -- even when the items are carried in-store. Or their $6 fee for return shipping of maternity items. Why must I pay $6 but folks buying Women's sizes get return shipping for free.

But Gap has recently tossed a big annoyance in the mix. They have manhandled their online order processing and shipping processes. It's out of control. Two months ago, I would place an online order, it would ship the next day via UPS, and arrive at Brad's office the following day. And I would think warm and fuzzy things about Gap Inc. But starting a month or two ago, Gap Inc. decided that processing orders in a day was too much trouble. Now it takes a week, if not longer, to process the order and send it out the door. Adding insult to injury, shipping is no longer handled by dependable UPS. They've contracted out to FedEx, which contracts out to the USPS, which makes ridiculous decisions when figuring out how best to get a package from point A to point B. For Gap Inc., point A is in Indiana. Point B is Chicago. Chicago is practically in Indiana. Yet packages shipped by FedEx "Smartpost" (aka, USPS in disguise) leave Indiana and head for Wisconsin. Did you catch that? They leapfrog their actual destination. They skip the giant hub that is Chicago and head north. What used to take one day now takes over a week. Grumble.

This morning I went into Liz's office at work and complained about this issue, and Liz is patient enough to listen and nod and empathize. Sweet Liz. I can be such a raving lunatic these days. Anyhoo, as of this morning, the pj order that I placed the day after Thanksgiving was scheduled to arrive at Brad's office this Saturday. Two weeks later. Meaning no comfy new pjs for the Tatermoon. But the powers that be at Gap must have heard my tirade, because miraculously the pj package arrived today. FedEx website still shows a delivery date of Saturday, and believes the pj package has not left Wisconsin. Genius. I like to think UPS couldn't stand to see such disgraceful shipping practices and swooped in to save the day.

In other good news, the stitch that developed in my side on Sunday finally disappeared this morning. It was unpleasant and made it hard to sleep, walk, sit. I thought for sure it was problematic, but then I did some trusty online research and learned that it's normal. Back in the old days, pre-Tater, when I felt a side stitch while exercising, I would breathe deeply and focus on the stitch and it would gradually dissipate. No such luck this time, perhaps because breathing deeply is no longer an option. Or perhaps because what felt like a stitch was really Tater jockeying for more room in my turduckin tummy. Regardless, I'm just happy that it's gone, as our Tatermoon is in Charleston and we are planning to do a lot of walking. We are also spending Friday morning at a spa, where I'm getting the mommy-to-be package. Prenatal massage, facial, and manicure. Pampering and warm pj bottoms that fit. All in one week. Heaven.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

a picture's worth a bunch of words

So. Far. Behind.

I have been a bad blogger. I apologize. Not only have I failed to post in over a week, I missed the 24-week mark belly shot. So, to make it up to you, I will share all of my informative and/or amusing anecdotes from the last week, AND I'll post a 24 week, 5 day belly shot. Hopefully that is the price for forgiveness.

First, the pictures. Because, honestly, that's why most of you are here:

The belly grows.

I also took a front shot, but now that I'm taking the pictures in a tasteful, clothed fashion, the front shot is less exciting.

See? Told you.

Now for the update. Last Wednesday Caty and Jim arrived for Thanksgiving with gifts in hand. Caty was horrified to learn that I wore jeans and Danskos to a club, so she brought me an incredibly cute maternity dress. I think it will look great with tights and Danskos. Don't tell Caty. They also brought a book for Tater. It's the story of an alien tickle monster. It comes with mitts for the reader to wear while tickling the listener. I love it. Brad is not a huge fan of tickling, so he refuses to be the listener. I will likely spend countless hours teaching Tater how to read just so he can sweet talk Brad into letting him be the reader. Don't tell Brad.

Randy arrived on Wednesday. He is still ridiculously excited about Tater's impending arrival, but he is freaked out by my stomach. Randy is married to the stork story and has decided to pretend that Tater will just fall from the sky. It took him a day to work up the courage to look at my stomach, and I think it happened by accident in the end. In all fairness, my stomach is a little freaky. Pregnant ladies develop a line running down their stomachs, the linea nigra, and mine is super dark.

Thanksgiving was fabulous. The family left on Saturday and we went to Liz and Alap's beautiful wedding that night. On Sunday we registered. Oy. Was that an overwhelming experience. It was nothing like registering for a wedding. When I registered for the wedding, nothing seemed essential. There is no such thing as a serving spoon emergency. But when we registered for Tater, it felt like we were wading into unknown territory all the while trying to make sure we didn't forget to scan the one item that would be essential to keeping Tater alive and breathing. I think I stared at the breast pump section for 30 minutes, subtly shaking my head in confusion and wonderment. We spent three hours in Buy Buy Baby. It was exhausting. When we finished, they gave us a gift bag that was filled with free samples that are actually useful. No prunes. And a free issue of Fit Pregnancy. You would have thought I won the lottery I was so excited to pull that out. Good times.

Back to work on Monday. We have awesome office clerks at work. They visit four times a day. On one of his visits on Monday, office clerk O lingered after dropping off my mail. He pointed to my stomach and said, "I noticed you're pregnant, how did that happen?" Certainly that cannot be what he meant to say, but he made no effort to revise his question, so I just said that it was Brad's fault. Awkward.

Tuesday the temperature dropped. It's officially winter in Chicago. After work I went to REI to buy Brad a new pair of 180s. He lost his over the weekend. Though he assured me that he would get around to replacing them, I had a feeling this plan would result in perpetual frozen ears. So off to REI. I also wanted to buy a set of spikes to wear on my shoes to avoid slipping on the ice this winter. I asked a friendly REI employee where I might find said spikes, and he pointed me to the second floor. Then he asked, "how serious are you about not falling?" I told him that I am going to be eight months pregnant in February and live on a street where the residents have inconsistent shoveling skills. So, pretty serious. Apparently REI sells two types of spikes, one of which is for people who aren't all that serious about staying on their feet. People who only like to slip every once in a while. I sprang for the upgrade.

Today was our 24-week appointment. We've hit the mark when we are meeting the other doctors in the practice group, and today was Doc F's turn. He measured my belly, which was a first. Always thought they would measure circumference. Nope. Pelvic bone to uterus top. It was 26 inches, which he said is normal. And we heard the heartbeat (smile). Tater's heartrate is between 135 and 145. Also normal. Doc F seems fully competent, though unwilling to laugh at any of the great jokes Brad and I make during our check-ups. I can't remember them now, but they were funny. We missed Doc G. He plays along. But we'll see him again in three weeks for the gross-drink diabetes test. That will be a nice reunion.

And tonight I got to see my old friends Amy and Charlie, who are in town for a conference. It was wonderful. Amy was one of my very first friends in Roanoke; we met the summer before the 8th grade. Tonight the four of us grabbed dinner at Quartino's, which was delicious. Towards the end of the meal, however, a woman at a nearby table launched her napkin into the air. I'd like to think that she was shooting for the man sitting across from her, but she had very bad aim. Otherwise, she had excellent aim, and was shooting for my large glass of OJ. It made a tremendous mess, drenching the table and my lap. I sprang up and started mopping myself. Turns out a soaked pregnant lady standing up in the middle of a crowded restaurant is a sympathetic sight. Though the offending patron didn't apologize or offer assistance (I think she was mortified and just wanted to make herself as small as possible), the manager rushed over and comped our meal. Another pregnancy bonus!

So that's the skinny on the last week. I'm feeling pretty good these days. Though I am still insanely light-headed and short of breath when I exert myself. Doc F says this is normal for some women and that I should stay within my limits. Will do. Oh, and I have to pee all the time. Seriously. I pee 25 times a day. Sometimes I can't go ten minutes between trips to the bathroom. The other night, I reached my limit. I had to pee, but I refused to get off the couch. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Speaking of the bathroom and large glasses of OJ . . .

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I like to move it move it

After weeks of anticipation, we finally felt Tater move! It's entirely possible (indeed likely) that I've been feeling his movements for weeks and mistaking them gas. That's right, all you pregnancy novices, fetal movement feels like gas bubbles. And pregnant women are quite gassy. (Sexy, no?) So, it's been hard to tell the difference. But I'm now 99% sure that I can distinguish Tater from gas. This is a relief, seeing as how Tater is supposed to be the size of an ear of corn. That is WAY bigger than a gas bubble.

Here's the first detection of movement story: On Saturday night we went to Heidi's house to celebrate Shruti's birthday, and I ate a sizable piece of ice cream cake. (Tangent: Would it be totally unacceptable to purchase a large ice cream cake and store it in the freezer for personal consumption? I foresee numerous ice cream cake emergenices in my near future. Or, do they make ice cream cupcakes? Oh, that would be the best.) After consuming this big dose of sugar in the form of cake-shaped dairy heaven, I still managed to fall asleep while we were watching HP6. I woke up for the final scene, and we went home around 1:30 a.m. Straight to bed, but I was up again at 3:00 a.m. because I had to pee. I had a hard time falling back asleep. While I was tossing and turning and trying to will myself to return to R.E.M. slumber, I felt a little jolt in my stomach. Then another, and another. So I woke up Brad.

Brad is not an easy man to rouse. And he is a bit grumpy when he comes to (well, grumpy for Brad, which is baseline for me). When he's out, he's out cold. For example, the 3:00 a.m. bathroom visit has been my routine for over a month. And it is not graceful. I stumble out of bed and my balance is a mess. I try to avoid stepping on Maggie and invariably knock into the bed. Yet Brad hasn't woken up once. He didn't even realize I had this routine until I told him about it. So I'm pretty sure I will have to thump him in the nose once or twice when it's his turn to tend to Tater in the middle of the night. Or simply join in with Tater's wailing. That should do the trick.

But I digress. When I first nudged Brad, he grumbled and tried to fall back to sleep. To his credit, when I whispered "I think I'm feeling Tater move," he was up in a flash. His hand flew to my stomach, and sure enough, he felt a few Tater thumps. He mumbled something indicating joy and happiness, and then fell right back to sleep. Envy.

I've continued to feel Tater move this week, and it's pretty fabulous. Unfortunately Tater seems to sense when Brad puts his hand on my stomach; he immediately plays opossum. But Brad caught him off guard once last night, and happily felt Tater moving around for the second time.

I'm most thankful for the daily reminder that Tater is doing well. Early in my pregnancy, when I was worried every second of every day, Meghan told me that she felt the same way when she was pregnant with Sam. She was convinced that as soon as she hit the second trimester, the fears would dissipate. She had no such luck. I'm going through the same thing. First, I was focused on hitting the 10-week mark when the miscarriage rate drops. Then I thought I would stop fretting upon reaching the second trimester. After that, I was certain the worrying would end when I hit 20 weeks. But now I'm staring down the 26-week mark, when the infant survival rate is supposed to be quite good. Certainly then I will breathe easier? Let's be honest. It's unlikely, given that I am a world-class worry wart.

Though, if allowing myself to indulge in caffeine from time to time is an indicator of reduced concern, then I'm doing a bit better. We were up super early this morning to prepare for the afternoon arrival of Caty and Jim (whee!!!), and I needed a kick when I got to work. Half-caff, double-tall, soy latte from Starbucks to the rescue. If movement = happiness (doesn't it always?) then Tater loves caffeine. Good boy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Epilogue: it actually worked

So, my post last night was admittedly on the negative side. Here's a dose of positive to start off the day: it worked!

I drank water like a good little fish yesterday. Gulped it down. And when I went to bed, my arm was noticeably less painful. Then I slept through the night! Seven hours of uninterrupted blissful slumber! I feel like a completely different person.

My back and chest aren't tight this morning. My arm feels 90% better. And I walked to work (with Brad) at a normal pace. Even took the stairs when I got to the station! Hallelujah.

Sleep + water = awesome.

In other news, my belly is crooked this morning. The right side is pooching out more than the left. It makes me laugh.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 15, 2010

how could one possibly forget to breathe?

It's been an interesting few days. Here are the highlights:

After the elevator collapse, I decided to take it easy. So when I went to the gym on Thursday night, I chose the seated bike instead of the elliptical machine. I find the bike pretty uncomfortable, because I spend the entire thirty minutes kneeing myself in the stomach, but I figured it would be less likely to end in disaster. Incorrect. I spent 30 minutes on level 1, and at the end I couldn't finish the cool down because I was so light headed. What the what?

Saturday we ran a bunch of errands, including purchasing furniture for the nursery. Brad has been saving up credit card points for years. He had dreams of using the points for a drum set, but when I found out that we could buy an entire set of furniture for the nursery from Pottery Barn instead, I turned on the power of persuasion. It was an easy sell, but Brad likes to over-dramatize the sacrifice he's making from time to time. For instance, while we are standing at the Pottery Barn Kids counter, surrounded by saleswomen and pregnant ladies. We actually exchanged the points for gift cards, but we could only get the cards in $100 denominations. So we handed the woman a stack of them when she asked how we'd like to pay.

Saleslady: "Woah. That's a lot of cards."
Brad: "Yeah. I've been saving up credit card points for years. I was going to get a drum set. But then I got her pregnant. Now I have to buy a crib."
Saleslady: (Crickets)
Pregnant Ladies: (Crickets)
Brad: Hee hee hee.

None of the ladies hovering around the counter found this funny. Brad was giggling uncontrollably as I was intercepting the looks of pity coming at me from every direction. Tough crowd. But, hey! We have a crib, dresser/changing table, and bookcase on the way! Woot!

Saturday night we got all dolled up for a swanky birthday party. Our good friends Shruti and Brett were celebrating together, and they booked a table at a club that is entirely too hip for me, and that's when I'm not five-months pregnant. I put on my fanciest outfit (new pair of jeans + fancy top on loan from Holly + patent leather Danskos). The shirt is awesome, but makes it blatantly obvious that I'm pregnant. Thus, I stood out at the club. Every time I walked to the bathroom, I got confused looks. Why is a pregnant lady at a club at 1am? It was quite the Knocked Up moment. Silver lining: I was the only person who could pour my drink at the table as soon as we arrived, as I didn't have to wait for the bottles decorated with sparklers to show up. Pregnancy bonus!

It was a late night: we didn't go to bed until 2:30am, and we had to be up at 6:30am on Sunday to make the dedication of Baby Jane, Meghan and Mark's newest addition. Then delicious brunch to celebrate. Then I went to a baby shower for our friends Dana and Thomas where I had brunch #2. Then I took a nap. When I woke up an hour later, my left arm was aching. Like I'd gotten a tetanus shot but ignored the instruction to move my arm constantly for hours thereafter.

Stayed up late (against my better judgment) and crawled into bed at 11:30. Up at 3:45 to use the little girls' room, and the aching arm decided to turn it up a notch. Could. Not. Sleep. Googled pregnant and aching arm, and learned that it's probably a pinched nerve. Tater is occupying more and more space (which is why I feel like a turduckin) and may be leaning on a nerve. Swell.

Eventually I got out of bed and willed myself into the shower, wishing I needed more than two hands to count the hours of sleep I'd banked in the last 48 hours. I moved at a molasses pace, and finally left for work at 9:30. Normally it takes me 10 minutes, max, to walk to the train from my apartment. It's, what, five blocks? This morning it took me 30 minutes. Because I could not breathe. I'd walk half a block, stop to catch my breath. Cross the street, see stars, stop to sit on the sidewalk. Ten more stops, perch on a building ledge. It was ridiculous and just a little terrifying. By the time I got to the train station, I had to take a break before walking through the turnstile. Then I took the elevator to the platform. The elevator! Thankfully, I made it to work without passing out. Yes, I ate breakfast before leaving the house. I was just insanely short of breath. And no, no strangers stopped to lend me a hand.

Called the OB/GYN to get some advice. Spoke with Doc L. Shortness of breath, even this extreme, is normal. Seriously? I can't even begin to imagine how I'm going to get around in a few months. Perhaps I'll have to crawl to the train? Doc L was a little worried about the arm pain, because arm pain + shortness of breath + tight chest (normally) = aspirin + a trip to the ER. But unless I was experiencing a 24-hour heart attack marathon, I was pretty sure that wasn't the problem. Doc L says I might get a little relief when my abdominal wall gives in to Tater's pressure. And he says I should drink more fluids, as dehydration can make the lightheadedness worse. So I'm downing as much water as I can. This is not easy, given the turduckin, Tater vs. abdominal wall state of things. Where oh where will the water go?

I officially regret every abdominal crunch I've ever done.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

wipe out!!!

As some of you may have noticed, I haven't had much to say this past week. I've thought about the blog, tried to think of something interesting to write, and come up short. I've been feeling pretty good, growing, exercising, eating relatively well. Still haven't felt Tater move, but I attribute that to the frontal placenta. See? Not a lot to say. (I did consider writing a post about how I was able to give some clothing advice to a woman in the dressing room at Gap on Saturday. She is fifteen weeks along and hates getting dressed in the morning. Felt good to pay it forward and to know that I'm not the only woman who loathes my closet.)

But good news! This morning the well was replenished! Here's a little story about how I ended up coming to on the floor of the elevator at 1030am.

I really like breakfast. Honest. I like it so much that I usually put off eating it until 10am. That way I can look forward to the meal for a few hours, and I don't have to wait too long before it's time to eat again. This is not a new habit born of pregnancy. It's how I've always structured my meals. Since I've been pregnant, I make a point of drinking a giant glass of water and taking my vitamins before I leave the house. Lately, I've also had a big cup of decaf coffee with a healthy dose of soy milk as well. Then breakfast at 10 (Greek yogurt, high-protein cereal, and a banana).

This morning was a little different. I wanted to get to work by 845 (yes, that's early for me) so that I could take care of a few things before heading over to the appellate courthouse to watch an oral argument at 930. (I have an argument before the same division in a week, and this was my last chance to get a feel for the panel.) So I poured my cup of coffee into a to-go mug instead of drinking it at home. Once I made it to the office, I took care of a handful of administrative tasks instead of eating breakfast. Managed to swig down a few sips of coffee before I grabbed my friend/colleague David (who is also arguing next week in front of the same division) and we headed off to the courthouse.

The argument lasted for forty-five minutes, and I sat relatively motionless, with my legs crossed, the entire time. When I stood up, I thought, "Huh. It sure is hard to breathe when you are pregnant." Didn't strike me as odd that this was the first time I'd had this thought.

Managed to survive the elevator ride down to the lobby of the courthouse. Walked outside, all the while feeling a little warm. It wasn't until we were walking across a busy four-lane street in downtown Chicago that I began to feel really light-headed. Saw a few stars. Decided that I could easily make it back to my office, so long as I kept talking to David and putting one foot in front of the other. Deep breaths.

I remember stepping into the elevator in my office building and realizing that most of my vision was obstructed by a thickening mass of stars. I pushed the button for our floor from memory, because I couldn't read the numbers on the buttons. Then I couldn't see anything, so I leaned against the wall of the elevator.

Then I woke up. I was sitting on the floor in the corner of the elevator, knees tucked to my chest, head resting on the wall. David was crouched beside me, saying my name. The two other ladies in the elevator were in a full-blown panic. And all I could think was "I am super comfortable. I should try napping in this position more often." We'd reached the floor that the ladies were supposed to get off at, and they were holding open the door, repeatedly pushing the elevator call button, asking if they should call an ambulance. And the elevator alarm was going off, making me less comfortable. I think I said something like, "I'm pregnant. I hear this happens to pregnant ladies. Please let me go to my floor. I want to go to my floor." Eventually they complied (though they did ride up with us, perhaps thinking David was not up to the challenge of keeping me alive for three more floors).

David brought me into the reception area, and we sat down in the chairs next to the front door. Before long, I was handed a glass of water and a banana. This is not a typical sight in our office, Robin sitting in the lobby eating a banana while David looks on with an expression of extreme concern. So a small crowd of loving, concerned coworkers gathered around me. And I had to admit to each of them that that no, I hadn't eaten breakfast. Oops?

Called Doc G's office and was told to take it easy and eat breakfast. Called Brad and learned that there is no way I'm making it out of the apartment for the next four months unless I've consumed a granola bar and had a glass of OJ. Told my supervisor, who has imposed the same requirements for the moments leading up to my oral argument next Wednesday (though we did discuss the value of the sympathy points I could score by passing out at the podium).

I am feeling much better, though still a little shaky and light-headed. Have decided to nix the plan to workout this evening. And I'm counting my blessings. Like:

Thank God I did not bump my head or my belly when I fell. (David says my head hit the elevator wall, but not terribly hard. And I haven't felt any residual pain in that area.)

Thank God I did not pass out in the courtroom while the justices were on the bench. (Can you imagine? One week from today: "Hi! Remember me? I'm here to wow you with my brilliant legal mind. I will do my best to stay off the floor.")

Thank God I did not pass out in the middle of the street in downtown Chicago. (Decent odds that I would have been struck by a cab and/or ended up on the evening news.)

Thank God I choose to wear very opaque leggings with my dress when I was getting dressed this morning.

And thank God that I work in an office where people are more important than billable hours. It's so nice to feel safe and loved at work.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

no, I don't want to see something gross

Saw Doc G this morning for my 20-week appointment. It was no-nonsense: no needles, no ultrasounds, no fetal heartrate monitoring. They took my blood pressure and made me step on a scale. Other than that, it involved a quick 10-minute chat. The real story is about my cab ride downtown. But I'll save that for the end.

Doc G reviewed my Level II ultrasound results. He reiterated that Tater is large but proportional. Learned that my placenta is in front. Which means it will take a bit longer for me to feel fetal movement, and from there on out I will feel it less often. He assures me that I will be thankful for this in the long run. No cause for concern; shouldn't affect delivery. I've heard a rumor from Liz (via her fiance Alap who is a doctor, i.e., a pretty solid source) that this might mean I'll look bigger as the pregnancy progresses. Fabulous. (I can't wait to be balance-challenged during a Chicago winter.)

Doc G was happy to see that none of the soft markers for Down Syndrome were detected. Apparently there are ten of them, and some are very loosely correlated with Downs. But having one or two pop up can cause parents to worry quite a bit. So he said it was reassuring to see that everything looked normal. Ultrasounds only detect 60-70% of Down Syndrome babies, so the risk isn't totally behind us. But we can relax a little.

Brain looked good. Heart looked good.

We also discussed was what to expect at the next few appointments. My 24-week appointment will be with one of the other doctors in the practice. For the 28-week appointment I'll be back with Doc G. That's the next time they'll run a battery of tests. I was wondering whether I should take an iron supplement (with the vegetarian diet). Doc G says I'm good for now. Levels were normal when they first checked early in the pregnancy. They will check again at 28-weeks and he'll put me on a supplement if need be. Until then, I'm eating my spinach like a good Popeye.

He also forewarned me about the diabetes testing that will be done at 28-weeks. I've heard horror stories about that one. Apparently (and this is based on hearsay, not Doc G), I will fast for a period of time (like, overnight) and then go in for the test which involves drinking a disgusting "beverage" and then twiddling my thumbs for an hour. At the end of the hour they test my blood. If whatever they are looking for is not normal, you go through it again, only the second time around you have to twiddle your thumbs for three hours.

I told Doc G that I had heard not great things about the Diabetes test and he responded, "No! It's better now." I'm thinking less fasting or less thumb twiddling. No such luck. He explained that they have changed from orange flavor to fruit punch flavor. This is an improvement? An improvement is from clay flavor to fruit punch flavor. Personally, I think fruit punch is gross. I'd prefer orange. Oh well, it's a minor bump in the pregnancy road.

We also need to sign up for prenatal classes at Prentice. Planning to register this weekend, shooting to take the classes in January. One of the classes involves a full day of hospital touring, registration, and a step-by-step explanation of the delivery process, featuring "antiquated" videos which will make me 100% certain about getting an epidural (per Doc G). Giddy-up.

All-in-all, a quick, easy, and positive appointment. Blood pressure looks good. Weight gain is normal. (Shooting to pack on no more than 35 pounds. He says I've gained 17 pounds to-date. I think I've gained 14 pounds. I believe 3-pound difference is attributable to my shoes and scarf and heavier-than-normal pants. Or maybe my home scale is just kind and gentle.)

So that's the good news. Ready for the cab story? It's a good one. You'll be happy you stuck around.

I pre-ordered the cab last night for an 8:30 a.m. pick-up. I love the Flash Cab company. They almost always show up on time and they don't gripe when you want to pay with a credit card. Only snag is that they often show up well ahead of time, and you can only ask the cab to wait for five minutes. I forgot about this quirk when I was timing my morning routine. The cab arrived before I took Maggie outside, so Maggie's morning walk became a walk/run. Brought her back inside, grabbed my things, threw a treat in her direction, and raced downstairs. Jumped in the cab and tried to catch my breath. The cigarette aroma in the taxi was not all that welcoming, but I was happy to be off my feat.

The cabbie had been listening to a morning talk show (KISS FM) at a pretty high volume while he'd been waiting. Shortly after I entered, he reached for the volume knob, presumably to turn it down to a reasonable level. Nope, turned it up. And the speaker was right behind my head. Here's how the conversation played out from there:

Me: Would you mind turning that down? It's a bit loud and right behind my head.
Cabbie: [Turns it off.] I really wanted to listen to that.
Me: You're welcome to listen to it. It was just too loud.
Cabbie: I can't hear it if it isn't that loud.
Me: Don't you have speakers in front?
Cabbie: I don't know how to get it to play up here.
Me: [Thinking, perhaps I should explain the balance knob to this fella, as a good-will gesture towards his future fares.]
Cabbie: I think you're just trying to be mean to me.
Me: Nope.
Cabbie: Are you a mean person?
Me: No.
Cabbie: What do you do?
Me: Lawyer.
Cabbie: Lawyers are mean.
Me: Thanks.
Cabbie: What kind of lawyer?
Me: Indigent criminal defense.
Cabbie: Ooh! Like on A Few Good Men?
Me: Not exactly.
[Brief conversation wherein I explain that court is not nearly that dramatic, and then try to explain what an appellate attorney does. Then a moment of silence.]
Cabbie: Would you prefer to sit in the front?
Cabbie: Would you prefer to sit in the front seat?
Me: No. I prefer to sit in the back seat.
[Moment of silence.]
Cabbie: Want to see something gross?
Me: No.
Cabbie: Do you eat dog?
Me: WHAT? No. That's disgusting. No.
Cabbie: I want to show you a picture. It's of people eating dog. [Cabbie begins messing with his cell phone while he is merging onto the busy freeway. God help me.]
Me: NO. I do not want to see that picture. That is awful.
Cabbie: [Begins describing the picture.]
Me: I do not want to have this conversation. This is absolutely disgusting.
[Moment of silence.]
Cabbie: Do you not like talking to cab drivers?
Me: It's not that. I just have a lot of work to finish before I arrive at my destination. [Lie. I have decided to focus exclusively on my phone to avoid eye-contact. I also had been simulcasting this conversation to Brad via text message. So at least I look like I'm feverishly working.]

Cabbie begins telling me about a conversation he had with a woman he picked up the previous day, which made no sense. I told him that I didn't understand, but really had to get my work done. We spent the next fifteen minutes in silence, as I did not look away from my phone. I had crazy motion sickness upon arrival, but it was worth it. After he ran my credit card (mild concern that he has that information), he apologized for talking too much. Yeah, that's it. I'm upset because you talk too much. Nothing to do with your front-seat invitation or your preferred topics of conversation. Dog eating? Shivers.

I cannot wait to get home and hug Maggie.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

what not to wear

I have mentioned my endless frustration with dressing this new, ever-changing body. For weeks, my mid section, um, "filled out," but I didn't look pregnant. Old clothes made me look like a plump sausage, maternity clothes were hanging in oh-so-unattractive ways. At first I loved the BellaBand, but eventually it turned on me. And I on it. If I stopped paying attention while sitting at my desk, it would creep creep creep up my back. And drive me crazy. I wanted to rip it off my body ala Hulk Hogan when it refused to stay put. Dare I admit I actually followed through on this urge one day. Thankfully, the BellaBand won that battle. Because heading home from the office with no way to disguise my wide-open pants would have been not awesome.

I started relying heavily on my leggings (elastic top rolled down) and high-waisted dresses. But fall set in a month or so ago, and I was desperate for some warmer bottoms. Trooper Brad went shopping with me to pick up a couple items at Old Navy and Gap. The cords I got at the Gap were a smart buy. The jeans from Old Navy looked awesome when I initially put them on. After I moved around for five minutes, it looked like I pooped my pants. I continued to wear them because I lacked other options. But I was grumptastic every day that they turned up in the rotation.

One day when I was surprisingly rational, I asked my super stylish friend Jennifer if she would be willing to go maternity clothes shopping with me. She agreed, because she is just that fabulous, and we headed out to the burbs on a Sunday afternoon. One of the malls north of Chicago has a large Destination Maternity. Took home a pair of jeans, a suit, two sweaters, and two t-shirts, in exchange for a lot of money. Then we went by a small maternity boutique in Chicago where I purchased a pair of Seven for All Mankind maternity jeans. Do I own a pair of regular jeans of the same caliber? No. But they dangled a 20% off -- today only! -- coupon in my face and I managed to rationalize the purchase.

Got home and modeled everything for Brad. His eyes popped when he saw the receipts, but he quickly told me that it was worth it if I would feel better about my body. I love that man. He is perfect. But unfortunately, as soon as he was okay with the expense, I was not. I immediately started second guessing my decisions. Thankfully, I am not afraid of returns (working retail for a summer will do that to you). Decided on some less-expensive options from Gap, Old Navy, and Motherhood. Took a few things back. And I learned some interesting tidbits in the process.

1. Maternity shops having lousy return policies. This seems so unnecessary. I know that maternity clothes have a short shelf-life for the buyer, but that's not the case for the seller. There are always new pregnant ladies. Must retailers punish pregnant women who are not always thinking clearly when making decisions? I decided to return the Seven jeans because they were not all that flattering, and I feared they would be a bit too tight in a month or so. Learned that I could not get a refund, only store credit. Blerg. They are going to call me when they get in their next shipment of jeans and the saleswoman assured me they could find a pair of jeans to fit my wonky body. Hope they like a challenge.

2. Maternity clothes manufacturers do not work off standardized sizing charts. I no longer know what size I wear. Some pants I wear in small. Some in medium. I've bought pants in size 6 that end up being too big, and pants in size 8 that are almost too tight. At the maternity boutique, I learned that you are supposed to buy two sizes larger than your regular jeans size if you are selecting Sevens. J Brand? Stick to your pre-pregnancy size. It makes my head spin. Pregnant ladies are already prone to crazy. This mystery sizing system is just cruel. (Don't even get me started on the gamble you take with ordering online, where the greatest selection of maternity clothes is actually located.)

3. Pregnant women are a target market for odd things. I decided to return the suit and one of the sweaters to Destination Maternity. The suit was hanging on me because my tummy is not big enough. No telling what giant Tater will be doing to my stomach in the next two weeks, but I'm guessing I won't double in size. In lieu of the suit, I've ordered a pair of black slacks from Gap (which I tried on in-store and they actually fit well! Hooray!). Planning to wear those and a regular suit jacket to the oral argument, along with a fancy maternity cowl-neck sweater. Should work.

Last night I trekked out to the burbs to take the suit and other sweater back within the 30-day returns period. In order to process the return, the friendly saleslady had to add me to their client database. After doing so, she grabbed a plastic package out of a closet and slipped it into my shopping bag, explaining it was chock full of free samples and coupons for pregnant ladies. Exciting stuff.

When I was trying to fall asleep, I remembered my package of freebies. Hopped out of bed to retrieve it. Ripped open the bag and flipped through the coupons and brochures. Diapers, Shutterfly, Cord Donation, Fisher Price. I tossed them aside like socks crammed into Christmas stockings so I could dig deeper for the free samples. So many potential options that would be fun. I was hoping for tummy lotion. Nope.

Prunes. Two individually packaged prunes. What? When exactly did I become part of the prune demographic? Prunes? Really?

Yes, I ate them. I'm hungry all the time.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

bonus time!

Two posts in one night! Could you ask for more? And this one has belly shots, which, let's be honest, is way more exciting than my thoughts on childcare options. I aim to please.

For those who aren't counting the weeks (days, hours) quite as meticulously as Brad and I are, we hit 20 weeks yesterday. Halfway there! Thrilling! Terrifying! So similar to Halloween! Speaking of Halloween, today is our one-year anniversary. A weekend of milestones and candy.

It's been four weeks since we took the first set of belly shots. To be honest, I feel WAY bigger than I look. Unfortunately, my clothes agree with me. I should show my clothes these pictures. The happiest time of my day is when I get home, strip out of my normal clothes and put on yoga pants and Brad's ridiculously large Vanderbilt sweatshirt. Comfort is awesome.

Ready for the pictures? Voila!

I think the change is most noticeable in this shot. Way bigger, right? But wait . . .

From the side, it just looks like the area below my belly button has rounded out. What gives, stomach? Perhaps you are camera-shy from the side. Anyhoo.

I'll put up another set at 24-weeks. I'm expecting big things between now and then. Hopefully big enough that I can cover the belly from here on out. I'm not against showing a little skin, and I love seeing the changes, but belly shots are a little weird. All the more so when nothing is left to the imagination. But I promise, if the belly button pops out, I'll take a picture of it. Because that pregnancy phenomenon fascinates me.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

take good care of my baby

Remember the bit about how awesome I am at worrying? Well, two weeks ago I fixated on child care. I'm planning to stay home for 4-6 months and then head back to my job. I don't love the idea of handing baby boy Tater off to someone else, but I can't see myself as a stay-at-home mom. Granted, there's no telling what I will see myself as when I have a real live Tater in my hands and not in my belly. But I really love my job. And if there is an ideal working mom job out there, I have it. The hours are incredibly flexible and predictable. And I have the option of going part-time. Also, I feel like I just got my law degree. I want to use it. I'm pretty sure all of the banks holding my student loans also want me to use it. So for now, finding a fabulous day care center is the plan.

A year in advance seems ridiculously early to start thinking about this stuff, but somewhere along the way I picked up that young parents living in big cities are supposed to freak out about pre-school education really far ahead of time. Wait lists, testing, kissing up to administrators. No clue where I learned this, as none of my friends have personally shared similar experiences with me. I probably saw it on TV and tucked it into my subconscious filed under "true things" and "things I will definitely worry about one day."

One of the problems with having to think about childcare this far in advance is I have no idea what matters. Right now all I want is a healthy baby with a reasonably sized skull. I don't know the difference between various educational theories and programs. I have a sense that feeding and sleeping schedules are hugely important, but don't ask me to explain why. So I turned to the online parent networks to get a sense of what other parents think about the potential centers. No idea who these folks are, but I'm blindly relying on their opinions. Thanks, strangers.

We narrowed the list down to two options and scheduled tours. One is in the neighborhood and my friend Kristin's son attends their preschool part-time. I like her son a lot. He is polite and well-adjusted and generally adorable. She and her husband get all the credit for this, but she has not complained about the childcare center reversing their efforts. Promising. The other is a bit further away, but en route to work.

I toured the Children's Learning Center on Tuesday sans Brad (he was traveling for work). It is gloriously nearby -- walking distance in warm weather. Two rooms for tiny babies, one room for babies who are 8mo - 14mo, and another room for tykes who are 14mo-2yrs. They provide organic baby food for the babies who have reached the solids stage. And once they are eating really solid food, they have an organic caterer. I looked at the menu. I need an organic caterer of my own. They also do a parents-night-out once a month and lots of events for the parents to get to know each other. I anticipate eagerly seeking out solidarity with other working moms. Smiles.

Oh, and they get bonus points for flattery. As I was leaving, the director let me know that we're in a great position to secure a spot. Apparently I'm a bit ahead of the game -- most people looking for fall 2011 spots won't show up until the spring when the list is considerably longer. Happily gave myself a pat on the back. I am always running late. Early feels good.

The second center we checked out is called the Little Green Treehouse. It is insanely eco-friendly. Cloth diapers, organic caterer with four menus (vegan and gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and carnivore). All of the toys are non-toxic and most are fair trade. The mattresses are organic, the bouncers are made with bamboo. I was in heaven. There are five baby rooms, with babies ranging from tiny to 14mo.

Both centers personalize the crib areas with big colorful name tags and family photos. It was simultaneously heart-warming and depressing. I will definitely have to take scrapbooking 101 to ensure that Tater's decoration is up-to-par. The monthly fees are almost identical, but I would have to start driving to work if we selected LGT (adding the expense of monthly downtown parking). It wouldn't make a huge difference, as we are resigned to dedicating the vast majority of my salary to childcare.

The one shocker was having a pay a big chunk of change to be put on the LGT waitlist. $200. Insanity. No, it doesn't go towards tuition. It's just a $200 waitlist fee. I suppose it helps to ensure only serious parents sign up. But they could achieve that with a considerably smaller price tag. I think it's really just a brilliant way to pad their bank account. I've been trying to dream up a similar rouse even since. The CLC list, on the other hand, was free. Free! I'm beginning to think that that's a word which will rarely be associated with parenthood. CLC will catch on soon enough. Perhaps I'll clue them in as soon as I am taken off their waitlist.

The other big difference is the pick-up time. CLC is open until 630, LGT until 6. I didn't ask at CLC, but LGT charges $5 per minute if you pick your child up after 6:05 p.m. As I am never early for anything (see above), and rarely on time, Brad commented that we would need to budget an extra $400 a year, minimum, to pay the late fees. Oy.

Both places charge $1000 to secure a spot once they are ready to take you off the waitlist. But at CLC it is refundable (if you decide to go with another option or to stay at home). Not so at LGT. Unsurprising (I believe CLC was started by an educator while LGT was started by an money-savvy entrepreneur). Also, LGT only takes full-time babies, while CLC lets you go part-time if you so desire.

So we are leaning towards CLC, but we would be happy clams with either option. And I'm just relieved that we can stop worrying about this for the time being. We are in a good position on both lists, so I'm confident that something will work out. And CLC handles registrations in December, so we may be sitting pretty in less than two months. Ahhh. One worry down, an infinite number to go.

Monday, October 25, 2010

frogs and snails and puppy dog tails

We had the Level II ultrasound today at Prentice. First observation: Prentice is like the Ritz Carlton's of hospitals. I cannot wait to spend a few days there. I'm a little surprised that the women being rolled out with armloads of flowers and balloons were not wiping away tears at the thought of returning to their significantly less-swanky homes.

I was ridiculously excited and eager all day, so I left work with loads of time to spare. Walked to the hospital, stopping to eat along the way. At my dear friend Beth's suggestion, I had a diet coke with lunch, my first caffeine in months. Beth explained that the caffeine would get the baby moving, and make the sex reveal a surer thing. I really, really wanted to know the sex. So I downed the soda. Anything to avoid a prude and proper fetus.

I made it to the hospital a few minutes early. The ultrasound tech called me back before Brad arrived, and we needed to get things started, so she promised not to reveal the sex before he showed up. When she first scanned the belly to get her bearings, she said, "Okay. I promise not to reveal anything." Which made me think that she may have seen something, and if that was the case, odds were on Tater being a fella. I got to see the brain and Tater's mouth opening and closing before Brad showed up. Then he arrived, and we looked at the heart, and the spine, and arms bones, and leg bones, and mid-section circumference, and holy cow are we ever going to see the area everyone's been waiting for? The tech did mention that she had a hard time getting a couple of the measurements because Tater was moving around so much. Um, oops? Little too much Diet Coke? Where's the line between zonked out fetus who reveals nothing and disco-dancing fetus who dares you to keep up? Tater also had the hiccups during the ultrasound, which was very cute. Surely that had nothing to do with my drugging efforts? Surely.

Here's a cute shot of Tater's profile. Brad thinks Tater looks the most like Aunt Caty. He says it is definitely a Price nose. I can see that.

Even if the moving and the shaking and the hiccuping was my fault, it was WORTH IT. Because all of the sudden, there's a freeze frame. And the tech says, "Do you want to take a guess?" Brad catches on first, and I do a double-take.

It's official! Tater is all boy. And not shy about making it known. Exhibit A:

Yes folks, there's a tiny penis in my belly. And by the looks of it, perhaps I should not be referring to it as tiny.

Our first thought was how Randy was going to be thrilled beyond belief. He was. (We quickly sent an email message to family, and Randy immediately responded with this as a close approximation of his reaction.) Our second thought was that we had not done any lasting harm by referring to Tater as a boy all of these months. High five. Brad's third thought was that he is going to have to learn the rules for the major sports. I reminded him that Randy and DadRo would take care of that. Plus, I know most of them. (Except for hockey, which I enjoy watching, but it's like seeing a beautiful foreign film without subtitles. I really really want to get it. But I don't.) So then Brad focused on acquiring matching father and son drum sets. Egad.

Later, Brad noted that he was excited to finally have some male companionship at home. The house is indeed estrogen-friendly, because I am a girl and the dog is a girl and the cat is a girl. Fair enough. Maggie (dog) and Brewster (cat) will definitely be thrilled, as they have strong preferences for men. Added bonus: Maggie loves anything that is inclined to throw a ball.

Oh! And the good news. No soft markers of Down Syndrome. The doctor who came in to review the findings explained that this doesn't necessarily mean that Tater doesn't have Down Syndrome, but it's a good sign. We'll take it.

The other big reveal at the appointment was that Tater is a giant. After the tech took all the measurements and went away to do her magic, she returned and asked us how sure we were about our due date. "Um, pretty sure?" If Tater is, in fact, 19 weeks and 2 days along, he is at the head of the class. All the measurements they took were in the 90th percentile, size-wise. Which means Tater would be average for a 20 1/2 week old baby. It's probably the Reese's.

If the date is right (which is probably the case, as we had an early ultrasound), it means we may have a big boy on our hands. The doctor asked if we were large babies. My dad told me that I was "huge," over 9 pounds. Randy was a giant, over 10 pounds. And though Brad was 7+ pounds, DadRo was a 9-pound baby. According to the doctor, big babies are genetic. Ouch. Perhaps my time at Prentice will be less euphoric that I'd hoped. Did I mention the free wifi and Bose sound systems? Ahhhh.

Friday, October 22, 2010

silver lining

Hi folks.

First, thanks for all of the positive feedback and encouragement after my last post. Turns out I was feeling slightly less calm and collected on Thursday morning. Nothing like riding to work on the el with a lady who is clearly trying not to cry but failing miserably. All your messages and prayers helped to bring me back to center.

I talked to Doc G yesterday afternoon. Shared our feelings on the Amnio, and he was wonderfully supportive and understanding. Then I told him that I had done some internet research on the ultrasound diagnositcs, and that I had a few questions because sometimes the internet lies. Turns out that the internet was mostly correct. This is good, because I am a fan of trust. But it's also bad, because Brad likes to keep me off the internet when I am a worried, fretting disaster zone. Oh well, I'm snuggling into my internet security blanket for the time being.

Our scheduled twenty-week ultrasound (which was supposed to happen on Nov 4), is a Level I ultrasound. But in order to do the Down Syndrome soft markers check, we need a Level II ultrasound instead. What's the difference? I haven't a clue. But it seems like the Level II takes a bit longer, and perhaps the machine is a bit more futuristic? I really hope it doesn't mean that it's a 3D ultrasound. I know, I know. People love those 3D ultrasounds. I am not a member of that club. The 3D images freak me out. They look like lumpy alien babies. I do not want to think that Tater actually looks like a tater.

The only thing the internet got wrong was suggesting that the results of the Level II ultrasound will factor into our risk assessment and either drop it or up it depending on the detection of soft markers. Nope. The risk will remain 1/155 regardless of the findings. But if they don't find soft markers, we can feel a little better about Tater only having 46 chromosomes. If they find soft markers, we will learn towards thinking Tater is filled with love and an extra chromosome. We won't know the results of the soft marker checks until a few days after the ultrasound.

Because the Level II ultrasound is special, they don't do them at the ultrasound suite across the hall from Doc G's office. They do them at Prentice, the fancy pants women's hospital at Northwestern (where we will be delivering). Doc G initially said that he would write me a referral and then I could call to schedule the appointment. Then he said, "you're 17 weeks, right?" Me: "Nope, 19 on Saturday." Doc G: "Oh. That's a different story. We will schedule this for you. Because if you call and try to schedule a Level II for sometime during the next few weeks, it will be a disaster."

I told him that next week was wide open, but Brad would be horribly unavailable the first two weeks of November. I knew they would do their best, but thought there was a solid possibility that we wouldn't be able to go in until later in November. Thereby delaying the sex reveal. Bollucks.

This morning Nurse L called to tell me that she had successfully scheduled my Level II ultrasound. When you ask? MONDAY. That's right. THIS Monday. Nurse L is a miracle worker. When I try to schedule run-of-the-mill ultrasounds, they need weeks and weeks of advance notice. When Nurse L schedules an ultrasound, she can move mountains. So we'll be seeing Tater on Monday afternoon, and we'll be learning the sex a week and a half earlier than expected. Silver lining!!!

Nurse L did not actually confirm that we will be learning the sex, but I have high hopes because there is no backup plan. The Level II is being done instead of a Level I, so we won't be going back on the 4th for another Tater viewing. And besides, if this magic ultrasound machine cannot detect the sex when I am 19 weeks and 2 days along, it is unworthy of its reputation. Just to be sure, maybe I should do a little internet research.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

bad news bears

So . . . I've had better days. It didn't start off too bad. I woke up at 5:30, tossed until 6:30, and then woke up Brad so he could get in on the fun. He tried to snooze me. I WISH I had a snooze button. I would have pushed it at 5:30.

Work was interesting. Found out yesterday that I will have my first oral argument in November. I've done a decent amount of trial work, but appellate arguments are different. So today I tried to focus on my new case all the while mulling over the ins and outs of the argument. And about how I will be investing in a maternity suit, something I had hoped to avoid. Good times.

Then, around 4:45, I got a phone call. It was Doc G, calling with my blood work results. Trisomy and Spina Bifida numbers are awesome. 1/10,000 and 1/6,000. Down's number is less awesome. Based on my age, my base risk was 1/180. After the first workup (at 12 weeks) my risk dropped to 1/370. 1/220 is the cutoff for invasive procedures, so that was good. But now, after this last round of blood work, we're back at 1/155.

I hadn't even been thinking about the results or worrying about what we would learn. I was feeling pretty confident and comfortable after the last appointment and just assumed that the number would get better. Not worse.

After I got over the shock, I called Brad to bring him into the loop. Then I did what I do best. Fretted, worried, and twisted my mind into a tumbled mess of thoughts/ideas/reactions. I am awesome at that. Gold metal standard. Here's a well-organized synopsis which is not representative of the mental process it took to arrive at this point:

We can get an amniocentesis and find out for sure, but it carries a 1/500 - 1/800 risk of loss. It also takes 3 weeks to get the results. Brad and I aren't comfortable with the risk. Sure, it's small. But we'd be putting the most precious thing in our lives on the table. And it's not something we're okay with wagering. I have a hard time upgrading to the dollar slots in Vegas. Let's be serious.

But the worry bug lives on. I don't want to spend the next five months stressing and fretting and wondering. I have to find a way to focus on the positive. So I switched the numbers around. 1/370 means a 99.729% chance of having a baby with only 46 chromosomes. 1/155 means a 99.355% chance. Fabulous odds! Just focus on that!

Oh, if only it were that easy. Today I really wanted to have the ability to bump bellies with Brad and just transfer Tater for a little while. Let Tater experience his calm, zen body while I get mine in order. Because he is so rational about all of this. He doesn't worry. He says it is because Tater is Tater. Either s/he has Down Syndrome or s/he doesn't. Why worry about something that is already set in stone? So wise. So not how my brain works.

We've decided to meet in the middle. Apparently we can get an ultrasound which will look for soft markers of Down Syndrome. It is non-invasive, so no risk to Tater. And it identifies 60% of fetuses with Down Syndrome. The wise internet also tells me that it can lower our risk, should the markers not appear. Calling Doc G tomorrow morning to learn more about that option.

I'm feeling very calm about the whole thing now. A trip to the gym and dinner with Katie helped a lot. (Tally for today: Gym - 1, Reese's - 3.) It also helped to read a few discussion boards about the testing and results. A number of women posted that they have sworn off the genetics testing after dealing with this situation. I think I agree. The worry is just needless. Tater is coming into a loving, wacky family no matter what. And it's not like we are "normal." (Understatement extraordinaire.)

It's been a rollercoaster. I sound okay now. I did not sound okay when I called my sister from work while sobbing, such that she couldn't understand what I was saying. It's not that I was upset about the possibility of having a baby with Down Syndrome (it's unknown territory, so scary, but not a bad thing). Here's what made me cry cry cry: what I wanted more than anything, the second I hung up with Doc G, was to call my mom. Berta had such a gift for listening and then dispensing sound, rational advice with the perfect amount of sensitivity, understanding, and humor. I wanted to tell her everything, listen to her reason it out, and hear her tell me that she wished she could wrap me in cotton and protect me from the world. I called Caty instead. She has so much of Berta in her. I know I have Berta in me too. I got her worry gene which makes it possible to dispense sane advice but impossible to give it to oneself. The gift that keeps on giving.

Just realized it's almost midnight. Why am I not asleep? I really need that snooze button.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

home of the grouchy burger

So...some of you might remember my post about being a huge irritable mess while pregnant. My father-in-law was paying attention (and/or keeping an eye out for large signage featuring family member's names).

DadRo was driving around Birmingham last week, when he noticed a re-purposed Dairy Queen. The new proprietors had set up a hamburger shop named "Robin's." Tag line: "Home of the Grouchy Burger." He returned the next day (at Brad's request) to find out if they sell T-Shirts in pregnant lady size. Alas, no. No t-shirts to be had. Jim did try the grouchy burger, which is a burger served between two grilled cheese sandwiches.

"Home of the Grouchy Burger" is apparently my new tag line as well. When I start to fall back into my less-than-pleasant ways, Brad just shakes his head and mumbles the phrase. Which makes me laugh, which makes me a little grumpier.

I bet I would not be grumpy if Brad made me a vegetarian grouchy burger. With avocado and tomato and a black bean patty. Yum.

Have I mentioned that I am hungry all the time these days?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the beat goes on

We heard the heartbeat today! It was very reassuring, but I think I built it up too much. It was our first appointment in five weeks, and while all things waist- and scale-related suggested that things were progressing normally, it was quite nice to hear that Tater is still doing his/her thing. At the same time, I was expecting an emotional moment. Tears in the eyes, shortness of breath. Not so much. Thus far in the pregnancy, the only times I've gotten really emotional are the moment we found out, and the few moments I've thought about the fact that Tater will never get to know my mom. Gets me every time. But I'll save that sadness for another day.

When I arrived back at the office this morning, Nicole asked if it sounded like a washing machine. Initially I said no, as I was thinking of my washing machine, which does not make soothing noises. But then I realized that it sounded a bit like listening to a heartbeat inside of a high-efficiency washing machine. A fast, earth-hugging heartbeat. Nicole is so smart.

The rest of the appointment was pretty straight-forward. They took my blood for the second round of genetics testing (results should be back early next week). Gave me a flu shot (along with the complimentary, sneaks-up-on-you sore shoulder). Got a few answers:

(1) Should probably steer clear of salicylic acid. Here's how that conversation went. Me: can I use face wash with it? Doc G: why are you using it? Me: um, because my face not cooperating? (Thinking, is there another reason one would use face wash with salicylic acid? I'm a huge fan of litmus testing my face?)

(2) Don't have to worry about weird red bumps that appear on my thumbs and itch. Good to know.

(3) My weight gain isn't cause for concern. The first trimester I was right on target, but since then the scale has been a little more aggressive. Think it was a grand total of 11 lbs as of this morning, at 17 1/2 weeks? This is by no means obscene, but the line graph is starting to look a little steep. It's hard to fight the urge to start restricting my caloric intake. Actually, it's not that hard. Because I'm always hungry, and because I brought a giant bag of mini Reese's cups to the office to "share." (In Seattle, the shared chocolate dish in my office was the real deal. In Chicago, it is just me and perhaps the occasional office clerk. It does not help that the two people who visit my office most often do not partake -- one is vegan and one has no sweet tooth.)

So, I've decided to make a concerted effort to get to the gym three times a week. Brad joined over the weekend, and he's successfully gotten my butt off the couch twice in the past three days. I am not awesome at keeping such promises, so I'm going to keep score.

Today's total: gym - 1, Reese's cups - 4. (Mmm. Reese's cups. Perhaps I need a bag at home to "share" with the trick-or-treaters who no-show every year.)

So. Heartbeat awesome but not tear-provoking. Arm sore. Weight, so far so good. And I'm all the more excited for the next sonogram and the sex reveal. Three weeks and two days.

Friday, October 8, 2010

well, I didn't see that coming.

I hit a milestone of sorts today. What, you ask? Patience. I'll get to it.

Over the weekend I took the plunge and purchased a few maternity clothing items. I am now the proud (?) owner of two pairs of leggings, a pair of jeans, a pair of cords, and a skirt. Low elastic waistbands galore. But I haven't worn any of the new clothing yet. I'm afraid of chemicals in unwashed clothing. (Plus, I'm not a fan of the Gap/Old Navy scent that sticks to everything in the store.) So I had to wash everything. And the skirt and pants needed to go to the dry cleaners for some much-needed hemming. (Short legs.) So I'm still making due with my normal clothes + Bella Band.

Yesterday I needed to class things up a bit. My office has no dress code, but when we're going to court, we try to play the part. I was observing a colleague's oral argument, and needed to look lawyerly. Realized none of my dress pants would fit, but thought I could pull off a certain pair of black suit pants or the matching skirt that always fit a little loose. Put on the skirt, shuddered at the stuffed sausage image that popped into my head, took it off. Tried the pants, same. Back in the skirt. Back in the pants. Ended up going with the pants + the Bella Band, which was the lesser of the two evils. Added a form fitting business-lady top. When I glanced in the mirror for a final once-over, all I could think was, "Woah. I look pregnant." But it worked, i.e., it wasn't horribly obscene. Plus, the woman doing the oral argument is really pregnant, so I counted on looking svelte in comparison.

Fast forward to today. It's 80 degrees in Chicago, and I didn't need to dress like a grownup. So I put on a comfy jersey skirt and a loose-fitting t-shirt. Looked in the mirror and thought, "This is more like it. Looking good. Definitely not looking pregnant." Go to work. Pass by the front desk. And one of the fabulous support staffers looks at me and says, "Robin, are you pregnant?" (Crickets . . . Blank stare . . . Crickets . . . Swallow . . . Crickets . . . quick glance at my ensemble to see if it had miraculously changed while I wasn't paying attention . . . nope . . . Crickets.) "Um, yeah. I am."

I was NOT expecting to get that question for another month! I mean, I think I look pregnant, because I am intimately familiar with the before and after. But I've been assuming that when acquaintances and strangers look at me they just think I'm in desperate need of the Abs of Steel series on VHS. So when she asked, I was blindsided by a question I should have seen coming. And I'm not sure I was ready for it.

While we're on the subject of my ever-expanding midsection, I really wish I had a decent picture of my bellybutton pre-pregnancy. Because I think its circumference is growing. I made Brad examine it last night, but he was no help. I thought the same thing about my boobs when I first got pregnant. But Brad said that picture would have been inappropriate. Don't care. I'd love to be able to really study the changes. Apparently my feet are also going to grow (this is why Brad says I cannot invest in an expensive pair of boots right now; I'm not so sure). But I don't think I'm going to want a close-up of my feet. But then again . . .

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

it was good to be a grownup

This morning I received an evite for my good friend Liz's bachelorette party. Whirlyball followed by delicious dinner followed by merriment. Hooray! Celebrating Liz! Also, I finally get to play whirlyball -- an event I've heard others gush over, but I've managed to miss out on time and time again! Win-win!

I click on the link, to remind myself what a game of whirlyball entails, when I see the link "Who Can't Play." Click. Skim. Elation shattered.

Pregnant women cannot play whirlyball.

[Neither can short people (less than 4'6"), children (<12), drunk people (I've heard this is just false), and folks with major neck or back problems.]

One more addition to the list of things I cannot do. Such as ski downhill, sit in a hot tub, lay on my back for longer than 15 minutes, eat delicious authentic brie, etc. Honestly, getting pregnant is like taking one ginormous step back. Back when you had to follow seemingly unnecessary rules because your parents said so. Maybe this is just the beginning of that cycle. Expectant mothers grow tired of being told what they can't do, so they impose rules on their children later in life to get a little piece of control back. I mean, why weren't we allowed to sing at the dinner table? Why?

The best part of being an adult is making your own rules. Brad reminds me of this every time I suggest that he not eat cake for breakfast. "I'm a adult. I can eat cake whenever I want." I feel like I've lost that perk. I've got tater to show for it, which is fabulous. But shouldn't there be more things only pregnant women are allowed to do, to make up a bit of the difference? Pregnancy perks, if you will. So far, I've discovered few item to put on that list. One, to be exact: Walk around in public with your pants undone. However, I'm considering another: Get out of [insert undesirable task]. I'll explain.

I had a dentist appointment today. I hate the dentist. This likely stems from a childhood of endless dental problems, despite being a dedicated little brusher. Morning and night I would stand at the sink, alligator-handle toothbrush at the ready, and give my pearly whites a thorough cleaning. Every once in a while I would chew those disgusting tablets that show what plaque you missed, longing to find that I'd pulled off a flawless brushing job. I was desperate to perfect my oral hygiene regime. Meanwhile, my little brother would go days without picking up his toothbrush. Yet every time we went to our awesome childhood dentist, guess who would go home with the "no cavities" sticker and an extra toy from the treasure trove cabinet? I'm not even sure I got a sticker, but if I did, it said something like, "Fewer cavities than last time." Oh the sorrow. And it didn't end at childhood. I brush and floss daily, but my first trip to the dentist in Seattle revealed an urgent need to put in nine, NINE, new fillings. Five replacements and four new cavities. We split it into two appointments, one of which was three hours long. It was agony.

So, when I moved back to Chicago, I wasn't eager to find a new dentist. But it seemed wise when I started my job and had dental insurance again. Six months ago, I went for my initial appointment. Lots of x-rays + a thorough cleaning. I left in tears. Turns out they have recently invented a new dental torture instrument -- the vibrating pick. My mouth is not a fan.

At that first appointment, my new dentist told me that I should meet with an oral surgeon to see about having my lower wisdom teeth extracted. I shuddered. This likely will not come as a surprise: my first wisdom teeth extraction did not go well. It also ended in tears. I was 21, and the dentist put me in a headlock to get a solid hold on each tooth. Then he wrenched them out, only to let them FALL ONTO MY TONGUE and remain there for a few seconds before retrieving them. Oh it was horrible. So the thought of going through anything wisdom-teeth-related did not sit well with me. Thus, I took the referral card, tacked it to my to-do cork board, and promptly began ignoring it.

Today went considerably better. The hygienist remembered how much I hated the electronic torture pick and did the cleaning by hand. (She even asked at the end if it went better, recalling that I expressed extreme displeasure at the end of our last appointment. I don't remember sharing my thoughts with her, but Brad assures me that I likely did.) When the doctor looked me over, he asked if I had scheduled the appointment with his wisdom tooth pall. "Well, because I'm pregnant, I thought it would be best to put that off." Low and behold, he AGREED.

So. No whirlyball, but pregnancy won me a stay from wisdom teeth extraction hell. Hallelujah.